Thanks for the Cranberries

Cranberry sauce

The food is so good at Thanksgiving, that we often wonder why we don’t have a similar meal other times through the year. My family is both traditional and creative. My husband is inventive. One year he basted the bird with pomegranate juice and molasses. He sometimes puts Italian sweet sausage in the stuffing and whole garlics in the mashed potatoes.

 

But there’s always pumpkin pie (not pumpkin cheesecake or pumpkin souffle). We’re happy when there’s enough pumpkin pie left the next morning for everyone to have a piece for breakfast.

I love cranberry sauce. I think it’s also good for you – all those berry-red antioxidants. (Well, there’s sugar, too!)

The kids are traditional when it comes to cranberry sauce. They want the jellied kind, right out of the can, and shimmering its way into the serving dish. Most adults prefer the whole berried sauce. We make it fresh, but change the final version every year.

The basic recipe is the same: equal parts of water, sugar, a pound bag of cranberries, cooked until they pop; then cool and refrigerate. That’s the start for all cranberry sauce recipes from Betty Crocker to Epicurius to your Grandma Mabel.

Fresh cranberry sauce is great to experiment with. Over the years, we’ve successfully added (thought not all together):

Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, pumpkin pie spice

Ground ginger/crystallized ginger

Orange zest and/or cut-up orange

Dates

Pitted sour cherries

Raisins or currents

Jalapeno pepper

Walnuts, almonds, pecans

Grand Marnier

Granny Smith apples

Put some of these in before the mixture cools. Mix. Taste. Make enough fresh whole berry sauce to have alongside your turkey sandwich when you get hungry sometime before bed.

You can store fresh cranberries for up to nine months in the freezer, take out the bag and cook them up without even thawing. I don’t know why we never make homemade cranberry sauce except at Thanksgiving. Maybe I’ll remember and make up another batch sometime in July!

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